Kristina McMorris comes to the blog today with a depression-era story of love, loss, extreme circumstances and challenges in
Sold on a Monday
An actual photo discovered from 1948, led to this story of a news photographer and a newsroom secretary set this depression-era story off, with several side trips to explore a relationship that frankly, felt disruptive and unnecessary to the plot. Ellis Reed is a newly-minted employee of a newspaper in 1931 – it’s the Depression, jobs, money and opportunity are hard to find and he’s determined to make his mark. When he’s chasing a story in a small town, his car breaks down… it is then that a decision he makes with a photograph that he snaps of two young boys sitting on a rundown porch holding a sign, 2 Children for Sale. The instant implications and questions of that scene are somewhat blithely pushed aside by a quote from Elliott Erwitt, “Photography is the art of observation. It has little to do with things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”, a bit of this remove from the scene is transferred almost subconsciously into Ellis, and that remove informs near every move, mistake, and interaction he has from that point forward for me.
Back in the newsroom there is Lillian, the secretary and single mother, struggling to keep a roof and outshine the stigma of her own mistakes and missteps, she’s intrigued by Ellis and while the two have huge obstacles of trust, truth and purpose that they approach from different ends of the spectrum, the photograph both separates and brings them together. However, from my perspective, while I could grab onto their questions that Ellis’ photograph (and his subsequent spin into a story of the times with all of the associated questions about loss, choice and never-before experienced hardships seemed to fall to the side as they explored their “relationship’ and often dropped their focus on the actual and very real crisis at their doorstep, in fact, at the doorstep of near everyone at the time.
What started as a story that should have produced a never-ending series of questions, emotional and complex choices, and perhaps some information about where the children went, if they went, and were they able to find some improvement in their own circumstances? These are questions, and choices, that could have had some sort of resolution and connection, actual palpable connection, to the couple that is so forcibly placed at the center of the story, without really ever seeming as if their story was enough: bold enough, dramatic enough, or even intriguing enough to overshadow the crisis in the photograph – or the many instances of similar ‘Sophie’s choice’ decisions made by parents hit hardest by the poverty, famine and weather that conspired against them.
I was disappointed that this story didn’t hit harder where the heartbreaking and often last-choice options were taken by those who literally ripped their lives and families apart to provide some nebulous something for children they couldn’t afford to feed, house or care for – and just where (and how) those traumas effected those children. Intriguing if you want the lighter and fluffier sort of ‘pass over something you weren’t aware of’ moment in history to provide a backdrop for a romance, but for me, this was a miss – a decent story that could have been a favorite had the focus been on the history unfolding in a photograph rather than the steps and missteps of a newly developing relationship because of the changes and upheavals.
Title: Sold on a Monday
Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre: Depression Era, Historical Fiction, Romantic Elements, Setting: American
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published on: 28 August, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
2 CHILDREN FOR SALE
The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.
For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.
At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.
Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: